Entering this game Riga had lost three in a row while SKA held a three-game winning streak. For the hosts, the games at home against the opponent would always be fun — granted a packed house but this time around — they were forced to play behind closed doors and without spectators making the task at hand to snap their home losing streak against SKA even harder. Riga hadn’t won at their home arena against them since 2018.
SKA showed their strength at one point holding a 4:1 lead over Dinamo, yet a comeback was achieved with a huge effort by the Dinamo team, however, they fell short in the shootout and lost the game with a final score of 4:5.
“I want to say a massive thank you to the team that they didn’t just give up on the game and that they showed character in the third period to take a very important point. We were unlucky in overtime and shootout but I’m happy with the end result. We will continue working hard. I’m also really happy that we have started scoring, we have gotten over the crisis and everything is okay with the team, we just have to keep working. As for the opponent I won’t say that they stopped working, they’re a well-skilled team but I believe that our goal with three seconds left in the second period changed the course of the game and that is why we could pull off a comeback.” interim head coach Valerijs Kulibaba said after the game.
“At the start of the game we allowed a little too many goals, we could’ve played better. We earned a point although we were going for two. I can’t blame the guys, everyone fought and I think that we did what we could. There were mistakes that we couldn’t afford, we had to play better in the neutral zone, play tighter when waiting for the opponent but overall everything was fine.” Oskars Cibulskis said after the game. He was also the first player to address the situation with coaching change when asked about it — “It hurts when the coach leaves you in the middle of the season. We all were hurt by it but we also had to get over it and I think we’ve done it and we can move on. We can only be angry now and pick our heads up, go out there and battle for the points and a place in the playoffs.”
Early in the game when neither side had settled in the game Dinamo Riga struck first — Hunter Shinkaruk re-directed the puck into the net to give the home side a 1:0 lead. The SKA bench instantly protested and the referees went to review the situation — the call on the ice was overturned and the goal was waved off.
The alarm bells rang loud and clear for SKA — Riga had another golden opportunity to gain the lead five minutes into the first — Mikhail Vorobyov was sent to the box for interference. SKA appeared to have killed it off but they took another penalty giving Riga more time to attack. The home team didn’t capitalize on it as Brandon Gormley took a tripping penalty to level the field and then give SKA a man advantage of their own.
Back on equal terms and Riga was on-board, a great set-up by Brandon Gormley gave Lukas Radil a perfect scoring chance and he capitalized on it with a wrist shot that flew into the far side of the net and past Yaroslav Askarov. The game was quickly tied as SKA took advantage of their rush to tie the game — Valentin Zykov caught a loose puck in front and put it past Johan Mattsson.
Riga being the worst team in the league in second periods had to be careful given the opponent but the task at hand was to play in the manner they had so far in this game. An error on the far blue-line was made by Dinamo and that cost them big time — Nikita Gusev stole the puck and got it to Vladislav Tsitsyura who found Ivan Morozov and assured that the puck ended up in the net to give SKA their first lead of the game.
SKA had switched gears and controlled the game as they looked for more ways to score while Riga scouted for something on the counter-attack. Unfortunately for the home-side SKA extended their lead further — three quick cross-ice passes between Linden Vey and Kirill Marchenko made Riga’s defense look confused and the latter put the puck into an empty net.
Reece Scarlett once again tried to cheer up his team with some pushing action with Valentin Zykov — both players were sent to the box. Not long after SKA was caught with too many men on the ice giving Riga another shot at man advantage but once again, nothing to show for it. Lukas Radil appeared to be pissed off and punched his opponent, receiving four minutes in the penalty box.
The first two were killed off by Dinamo but SKA still managed to send one puck as both sides headed to the locker room — Marchenko earned his second point of the game with an assist on Joonas Kemppainen’s goal. Riga didn’t want to give up and Daniels Berzins headed into the zone to block Askarov’s view for Gints Meija to shoot from the blue-line and all of a sudden Riga was back in the game and down by two after forty.
Riga was determined to make a comeback and once again Hunter Shinkaruk stood out — a one-on-one meeting with Askarov but the defenseman appeared to have stopped the puck prior it crossed the line — game continued but at the next stop, the referees went to review the situation and once again it was deemed as no goal.
No giving up for the home team — after a lengthy review they went back to playing hockey Oskars Cibulskis beat Yaroslav Askarov for the third time pulling his team back within a goal. The SKA side had enough of it quickly swapping their goalies — Askarov came out and Alexander Samonov replaced him.
With a little, over ten minutes left in the third Riga received yet another chance to have an extra player on the ice to tie the game — quick cycling of the puck with many shots and it meant something — a beautiful sequence for Riga and the scoreboard showed a 4:4 tie after a goal by Reece Scarlett.
With two and a half minutes in the third Oskars Cibulskis was assigned to the penalty box giving SKA hope for a victory in regulation. Mattsson was there to assure that Dinamo would earn at least a point and sent his team to overtime.
Dinamo had a huge opportunity to score in OT but the play was blown dead by the referees due to a too-many-men penalty for Riga. The home team went hard to block shots, Johan Mattsson stood as if everything was on the line and the team penalty was negated. Both teams exchanged scoring chances but the score stayed tied past overtime meaning that shootout would decide the winner.
Both sides demonstrated beautiful goals but the SKA was the better team taking the shootout with a score of 3:2 which meant a 5:4 victory in the game.